French president Emmanuel Macron has launched a brutal islamophobic assault.
On Friday he called for a fight against "Islamist separatism” in France. He described Islam as “a religion in crisis all over the world today that is corrupted by radical forms”.
In France, he said, the religion must free itself from “foreign influences”.
Macron repeatedly said he did not want to stigmatise all Muslims. But that will be the result of his policies, as he surely knows.
He said his fight against “separatism” was based on "five pillars"—a reference to the five pillars of Islam.
Macron wants to extend the present "duty of neutrality" to all public sector workers and contractors. In practice this means that Muslims can be excluded from employment on the grounds they might favour members of their own religion.
And police could investigate people who apply for jobs in public transport or at airports.
Measures planned include closing down community associations that are believed to take an Islamist line or fail to abide by a secular charter.
Macron said that local state prefects would now have the power to overrule local officials, who, for instance, introduce halal menus in state schools. They could also stop provision to “exclude men or women from certain swimming pool time-slots”.
New laws will ban homeschooling except on medical grounds and make school education compulsory for all children over three in order to avoid “indoctrination” by “extremists”.
The role of all schools, he said, was to “train citizens, not believers”.
But the laws will say nothing about, for example, the arrangements in the Alsace-Moselle region. Here the Catholic, Protestant and Jewish clergy are financed by the state and children have religion classes, delivered by faith group representatives, in public schools.
Macron hopes his Islamophobia will distract from his failures over coronavirus and his attacks on the working class. He also hopes to grab some of the voters who presently back the fascist National Rally of Marine Le Pen.
In fact such speeches only generate stronger racist demands.
The National Rally said, “certain measures are going in the right direction”. But it swiftly added there was, “not a word on massive immigration which is the breeding ground for communitarianism, not a word on the necessary prohibition of ideologies, not a word on the necessary reform of the nationality code in order to deprive the separatists of French nationality”.
It promised to raise these elements during the legislative process.
The revolutionary socialist NPA party said it “condemns this state Islamophobia and will join all mobilisations against it. We reject the strengthening of discrimination and attacks against Muslims and affirm that we will not allow ourselves to be divided in the face of this government in the service of the rich which is paving the way for the far right every day.”
The mainstream left Socialist Party complacently said it was glad Macron had not targeted all Muslims and had to do more to tackle poverty.
Jean-Luc Melenchon, likely to be a left front runner in next year’s presidential election, denounced the "hypocritical and evil character” of the speech. It remains to be seen what opposition his party will mount.
Macron’s Islamophobia builds on decades of such measures implemented by all the major parties and far too often ignored or even supported by the left.
The latest attack emphasises that ruling classes facing political and economic crises will turn to scapegoating and racism in an effort to splinter opposition.
All those in the Yellow Vest, trade union, anti-racist, climate and women's movements also need to fight against Islamophobia.